tot·​ter | \ ˈtä-tər How to pronounce totter (audio) \
tottered; tottering; totters

Definition of totter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move unsteadily : stagger, wobble
2a : to tremble or rock as if about to fall : sway
b : to become unstable : threaten to collapse



Definition of totter (Entry 2 of 2)

: an unsteady gait : wobble

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Synonyms for totter

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of totter in a Sentence

Verb The child tottered across the room. He tottered away to bed.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The real estate sector, which usually pulls the economy, has been tottering since the demonetisation of Nov. 2016. S. Gopikrishna Warrier, Quartz India, "Like unchecked growth, economic decline too can have environmental fallouts in India," 20 Jan. 2020 The Tigers tottered into deadline week 10 games under .500 and going nowhere fast. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers: Solving the greatest 'What ifs' of the 2010s," 31 Dec. 2019 In soft-edged illustrations, Sue Cornelison depicts one baby palooza after another: toddlers on yoga mats interacting with friendly animals; babies scooting on their bottoms and tottering around upright. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: First Days and First Bites," 19 Apr. 2019 Lawrence and Season Lee were marching on a highway with their 3-year-old daughter, who tottered along in pink galoshes. Austin Ramzy,, "Hundreds of thousands march in Hong Kong in latest rally," 18 Aug. 2019 Lawrence and Season Lee were marching on a highway with their 3-year-old daughter, who tottered along in pink galoshes. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Hong Kong Protesters Defy Police Ban in Show of Strength After Tumult," 18 Aug. 2019 Everyone grabs for their tottering beverages, trying desperately to prevent spritzes and garnishes and straws (paper, natch) from making contact with summer whites. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, "This 20-Cent Wedge of Plastic Will Make You a Restaurant Hero," 26 Aug. 2019 Behind him, his son and grandson tottered along, hand in hand. Azam Ahmed, New York Times, "Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out.," 18 Aug. 2019 But when the end of the economic cycle comes, investors should expect big losses even if banks don’t totter. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "No Lehman Repeat, but a Great Opportunity to Lose Money Is Coming Anyway," 13 Sep. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When Cvechko told the children to come to the car, Kambria unknowingly walked across the pit’s lid, which flipped like a teeter-totter, sending her through the narrow opening. Washington Post, "Girl’s fall into grease pit prompts effort to toughen fines," 4 Feb. 2020 At 123 feet long, the teeter-totter is big enough to hold several people at a time. Jay Jones,, "Big things happening in Casey: Guinness World Records headed to Illinois town full of oversized objects," 26 Sep. 2019 But in recent months, the two seem to occupy opposite ends of a teeter-totter, with consumers continuing to spend while business owners and managers are chastened by doubt and uncertainty. Patricia Cohen, New York Times, "Companies Cut Back, but Consumers Party On, Driving the Economy," 4 Nov. 2019 Officials from Guinness World Records are scheduled to be in Casey on Sept. 28 to certify the world’s largest key, golf club, gavel, twizzle spoon, teeter-totter and barbershop pole. Jay Jones,, "Big things happening in Casey: Guinness World Records headed to Illinois town full of oversized objects," 26 Sep. 2019 Their idea finally came to life at an event Monday in Sunland Park, New Mexico, when three bright pink seesaws or teeter-totters were added to the giant steel border wall. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, "California professors install seesaws along U.S.-Mexico border wall," 30 July 2019 The fire damaged an X-Wave teeter-totter and Ring Trek equipment, Stenehjem said. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Teen arrested in playground fire at East Anchorage elementary school that caused $100,000 in damage," 27 July 2019 There will also be a 4-foot grade change that will include hill slides and hill play, two 12-foot towers with climbing features and tunnel slides, an at-grade spinner, accessible teeter-totter, accessible zip line, swing set and a toddler playhouse. Cathy Kozlowicz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After 10 years of planning, a new playground, pavilion and splash pad in Sussex are breaking ground," 17 July 2019 Lee’s most memorable speech bubbles totter on the edge between speech, poetry, and outright doggerel. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "The larger-than-life huckster dialogue of Stan Lee," 13 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'totter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of totter


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1709, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for totter


Middle English toteren

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Time Traveler for totter

Time Traveler

The first known use of totter was in the 15th century

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Statistics for totter

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Totter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for totter


How to pronounce totter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of totter

: to move or walk in a slow and unsteady way
: to become weak and likely to fail or collapse


tot·​ter | \ ˈtä-tər How to pronounce totter (audio) \
tottered; tottering

Kids Definition of totter

1 : to sway or rock as if about to fall
2 : to move unsteadily : stagger

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More from Merriam-Webster on totter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for totter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with totter

Spanish Central: Translation of totter

Nglish: Translation of totter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of totter for Arabic Speakers

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